A civil investigation into the Archdiocese of Washington has been launched by Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine. The investigation comes after allegations of the archdiocese covering up the sexual abuse of minors. Racine said in a statement:
“While we generally don’t talk publicly about our confidential enforcement activity, I can report that our office has launched a civil investigation into whether the Archdiocese — which is a nonprofit institution — violated the District’s Nonprofit Act by potentially covering up allegations of sexual abuse of minors.”
Clearly, the covering up of sexual abuse does not in any way work in the public’s interest. The attorneys for the archdiocese have met with the attorney general and have provided annual reports of abuse allegations, which have been published every year since 2003. Racine is encouraging those who have faced abuse by the church to report the abuse to his office as soon as possible.
The Archdiocese maintains the position that there has been no sexual abuse, as they maintain a zero tolerance policy for any abuse of any kind. Kim Viti Fiorentino, chancellor and general counsel for the Archdiocese of Washington, said in a statement:
“We explained that the problem of sexual abuse of minors in the archdiocese was a historical one — that to our knowledge there had not been an incident of abuse of a minor by an archdiocesan clergy member for almost 20 years… there is not now, and has not been for decades, any problem of abuse of minors by clergy of the Archdiocese of Washington. Zero tolerance has been mandated in this archdiocese and zero abuse is the result.”
Although a strong statement, the archdiocese had originally refused to release a list of credibly accused members who abused minors. This was conveniently close to the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who is accused of mishandling cases of misconduct in Pittsburgh. The replacement for Wuerl, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, was recently demoted by the Pope and ordered to stay put until the Vatican hears his appeal on his charges of sexually abusing an altar boy. McCarrick is also accused of sexually abusing seminarians in New Jersey.
The scope of this investigation at this point is unclear, however, Washington D.C. is not the only area that is facing allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The attorney general of New York issued civil subpoenas in September for all of the eight dioceses in the state, as there are many allegations of mishandling of misconduct cases and potential cover-ups of sexual abuse. The New Jersey, New Mexico, and Missouri attorney generals have also recently stated that their offices are investigating potential sexual abuse cases in the church, and are going to do everything in their power to make sure mishandlings and cover-ups are investigated.
Sexual abuse should never be hidden, and those mishandling the cases and covering up are just as guilty as those doing the abusing. In cases like these, it’s important to have legal help from a reputable firm who will take into consideration how hard it can be to be involved in a case of this kind. You can trust that KBA Attorneys will handle your situation with the utmost care. You deserve justice, and we want to make sure that those who are involved see the full extent of the law. Call us today for a private consultation.